DIPHTHONGS

 

A diphthong (pronounced difthong) is a vowel that actually consists of two vowels in a single syllable, in which the sound begins as one vowel and moves toward another (as in coin, loud, and side).  Diphthongs are considered single phonemes, each having a sequence of two different vowel positions.  One of the positions is the dominant nucleus (sometimes called the radical) with greater duration; the other position, the glide (or vanish), is of reduced duration and stress.  Both positions are taken in a single syllable.  All diphthong phonemes of American-English move from the nucleus to the glide position. 

The children I have been working with all seem to have difficulty with the glide part of the diphthong.  My experience has been that they are capable of producing the nucleus….however delete the glide completely.  When given a verbal and visual cue…and when just producing the diphthong in isolation….they are capable of producing both the nucleus and the glide.  However….once in a word….the glide is deleted. 

To improve your little one’s ability….it is best to start off with words that are consonant-vowel words (and do NOT have a consonant that follows the vowel).  An example of this would be the following…..best to start off with words like: BYE……..and work towards words like: BIKE.  Both of these words start off with the consonant B…..followed by the same diphthong…however, in the word: BIKE…..the consonant K ends the word….making it a little more challenging. 

 

 

HOW MANY DIPHTHONGS ARE IN ENGLISH?

There are eight English diphthongs altogether. To make diphthongs, your tongue, lips and your jaw at times……have to move. Sometimes the movement your tongue makes is short and very controlled; in some of the diphthongs, it has to move a long distance in your mouth, involving a lot of jaw movement too.

Diphthongs are difficult because producing them is a motor skill (like increasing the strength of the muscles in your body).  Therefore, practice is important if you want improved results.   Your little one will be able to make improvement through awareness of the following: the manner of articulation (e.g. the absence or presence of lip rounding &/or tension and degree of jaw movement), the starting and finishing tongue positions, and both the direction and extent of tongue movement.

 

 

EIGHT DIPHTHONGS AND HOW TO TEACH:

 

FIRST DIPHTHONG:

         as in day, pay, say, lay.

The velopharyngeal port is closed and the sides and the back of the tongue are closed against the upper molars.  The middle and front of the tongue is raised toward the palate and alveolar ridge.  The tongue than briefly rises….then the tip of the tongue touches lightly behind the lower front teeth.  The first part of the diphthong is the longer nucleus and the second part of the diphthong is the shorter glide. 

 

This sound is the long A sound in English.  The long A is made of up two sounds….the short E sound as in BED…..and the long E sound as in BEE.  When you put these two sounds together you get the long A sound.  You can practice making the short E sound and then follow it by the long E sound. 

When you make the long A sound….the first part of the diphthong is called the nucleus…and the first part of the diphthong/nucleus in the long A  is the short E sound…and then you follow the nucleus with the glide….the long E sound.  A little confusing I know…please reply with any questions.

When I work on the long A diphthong….first I have the child practice the short E sound in isolation/by itself.  And remember the short E is the sound in BED.  So have your little one say: 

e-e-e-e-e-e  (remember this is the short E sound)

Next I would have the child make the long E sound…

E…….stretching out the E sound during production.  Use the visual cue that follows to help your little one “see” that the long E sound continues.

Visual/Physical Cue:

One of the ABA teachers I work with called this the “taffy” cue……so imagine that you are holding a piece of taffy between your hands….held together by your pointer fingers and thumbs…..then you are going to pull the taffy apart…..stretching your fingers/hands apart…..the picture above is the best one I could find to give you the visual cue…..remember to start at midline(the middle of your body) with both hands together….only pointer and thumbs touching…..then as you stretch your fingers out….make the E sound…..you should stretch to the length of your shoulders…

Once your little one is able to produce the short E and the long E….she may be ready to try in simple words:

 

C-V words:

Bay

Say

May

Ray

Day

Lay

Kay

Fay

Gay

Hay

Jay

Nay

Pay

Way

 

In my experience I have found that the little ones that struggle with the production of diphthongs most frequently have difficulty with the glide portion of the diphthong.  This is the second part of the diphthong.  So when we practice…..I start of with words that are C-V words. As you can see above.  What does this mean?……look above at the word list.  All of the words start off with a consonant (C) and end with a vowel (V).  The words do not end with a consonant.  This makes the word easier to say with regard to oral motor skills and abilities. 

After your child has mastered the above word list….the next step is to add a consonant to the end of the word…so follow the list below:

 

 C-V-C words:

Bait

Sate

Mate

Rate

Date

Late

Kate

Fate

Gate

Hate

Jate

Nate

Pate

Wait

 

Now when I work with the two little ones that I see for “diphthong therapy”…..this is the order of “diphthong therapy”

PRACTICE:

1.Nucleus sound..short E sound only

2. Glide sound….long E sound only

3. Syllables…..short E followed by long E

4. C-V words: use list above

5. C-V words in phrases, then short sentences, longer sentences, conversation

6. C-V-C words:  use list above

7. C-V-C words in phrases, then short sentences, longer sentences, conversation

 

 

SECOND DIPHTHONG: 

 

This is the Long I sound as in sky, buy, cry, tie.

The middle and front portion of the tongue is raised and voice is given.  Then the tongue briefly rises in front and the mouth opening is slightly decreased as voice continues.  The tip of the tongue touches lightly behind the lower front teeth.  The first part of the diphthong sound is the longer nucleus and the second part of the diphthong is the shorter glide.   The velopharyngeal port is closed and the mouth is open.

 

If you refer to my diphthong page listed above….you can click on that link….and find information about all eight diphthongs….although I am not yet completely finished with regard to “how to teach your child to say diphthongs“….I have listed all eight of them.  

I find the Long I diphthong an easy one to rememdiate…in the sense that you are able to provide good visual cues so that your child can ”see” how the diphthong is produced.    Remember a diphthong is one syllable that consists of two vowel sounds…so when you produce the long I sound…the first part of the diphthong…the nucleus…is the ah sound…followed by the glide….the Long E sound

As I have indicated on the diphthong page…the children I have worked with typically have difficulty with the glide portion of the diphthong…they are able to produce the nucleus…however delete the glide.  This is especially noted when the word ends with a consonant as in hide.  The child may be able to say HI…producing both the nucleus and the glide portion of the diphthong……however…as soon as there is a consonant at the end of the word….as in HIDE…the glide is deleted.

 

 

When I work on this diphthong…I start off with the little one opening her mouth wide…and saying….ahhhhhh.  This usually is pretty easy for her….because she most likely has been to the doctor or dentist…so she should understand what it means to say ahhhhh

Practice making just this sound…and good to use a mirror for visual feedback..this visual feedback is important so that she can see that her mouth is open wide. 

Extra tip: I also have the little ones tap on their throats as they are saying the ahhhh sound….your vocal folds are vibrating….so it makes a pretty cool sound when you tap on your throat…..

Okay….so hold that ahhhhh sound…and now you are going to stretch it into an E sound…the long E sound….

Use the cue below to help your little produce the long E sound.

E…….stretching out the E sound during production.  Use the visual cue that follows to help your little one “see” that the long E sound continues.

Visual/Physical Cue:

One of the ABA teachers I work with called this the “taffy” cue……so imagine that you are holding a piece of taffy between your hands….held together by your pointer fingers and thumbs…..then you are going to pull the taffy apart…..stretching your fingers/hands apart…..the picture above is the best one I could find to give you the visual cue…..remember to start at midline(the middle of your body) with both hands together….only pointer and thumbs touching…..then as you stretch your fingers out….make the E sound…..you should stretch to the length of your shoulders…

After your little one can produce the ahhh sound and the long E…have them practice in syllables such as:

ah-E

ah-E

ah-E

ah-E

ah-E

Next practice in syllables that do not end in a consonant such as:

(remember: the consonant indicated below is followed by the LONG I sound)

bye

ki

die

fi

guy

hi

lie

ki

my

ni

pie

sigh

tie

why

zi

Next practice the same words above…but now with an ending consonant…this will definitely make the production of the glide portion of the diphthong more challenging.  I have found that as soon as there is a consonant at the end of the word…the glide is deleted…..so when I practice the word list below…I would be sure to really exaggerate the Long E sound…..then follow by the ending consonant…please post any questions…

bite

Kite

dime

fight

guide

hide

light

kite

mite

night

pine

sign

tine

whine

zine

Remember some of the words are nonsense words…it does not matter…the point is to get your little one to go from a consonant….to the diphthong…and then end the word or nonsense word with another consonant.

 

 

Now when I work with the two little ones that I see for “diphthong therapy”…..this is the order of “diphthong therapy”

PRACTICE:

1.Nucleus sound..ah sound only

2. Glide sound….long E sound only

3. Syllables…..ahhh followed by long E

4. C-V words: use list above

5. C-V words in phrases, then short sentences, longer sentences, conversation

6. C-V-C words:  use list above

7. C-V-C words in phrases, then short sentences, longer sentences, conversation

Hope this was helpful. 

 

 

 THIRD DIPHTHONG:

            as in boy, toy, coy

 

This post addresses how to teach the vowel sound as in the word BOY.  The vowel in the word boy is actually considered to be a diphthong.  There are eight diphthongs in English…please read under the diphthong page above for information on how to teach the other seven diphthongs.

A diphthong is a sequence of two vowel sounds produced in a single syllable with one sound dominant.  A diphthong is made up of the nucleus and the glide.  The nucleus is the longer dominant vowel of the diphthong (and is the first part of the diphthong) and the glide is the shorter, less stressed vowel of the diphthong (the glide is the second part of the diphthong).

 

 

as in words such as: boy, oil, voice, coin, foil

What you see above is how we transcribe the diphthong as in the word boy.  This diphthong is a back round to a high front diphthong…this is in reference to how it is produced inside of the mouth.

 

How this diphthong is produced inside of the oral cavity:

The velopharyngeal port is closed, the back and middle portion of the tongue is slightly raised with elevation for the first part of the diphthong (the nucleus), the mouth is open with the lips rounded and slightly protruded and it is voiced.  Voiced means that you are vibrating your vocal folds to make this sound.  Next, the lip rounding relaxes and the tongue briefly rises. 

 The children I have been working with all seem to have difficulty with the glide part of the diphthong.  My experience has been that they are capable of producing the nucleus….however delete the glide completely.  When given a verbal and visual cue…and when just producing the diphthong in isolation….they are capable of producing both the nucleus and the glide.  However….once in a word….the glide is deleted. 

To improve your little one’s ability….it is best to start off with words that are consonant-vowel words (and do NOT have a consonant that follows the vowel).  An example of this would be the following…..best to start off with words like: COY……..and work towards words like: COIL.  Both of these words start off with the consonant C…..followed by the same diphthong…however, in the word: COIL…..the consonant L ends the word….making it a little more challenging.

 

 

HOW TO TEACH THE DIPHTHONG: []

 

When addressing this diphthong…I like to start off with the non-speech exercise of having the child make a pucker with her lips….next retract her lips for a smile.  This oral motor exercise will help her get her lips and tongue into position for the production of the diphthong in the word boy.  After you have practiced this oral motor exercise she should be ready to put some sound to it…..I like to use a mirror in order to give the little one feedback so that she sees what she is doing with her lips.

 

Have your little one practice the Aw sound (this is like the sound you hear in the word: LAW)…..now have her hold the sound….next add the long E sound…..

Use the cue below to help your little produce the long E sound.

E…….stretching out the E sound during production.  Use the visual cue that follows to help your little one “see” that the long E sound continues.

Visual/Physical Cue:

One of the ABA teachers I work with called this the “taffy” cue……so imagine that you are holding a piece of taffy between your hands….held together by your pointer fingers and thumbs…..then you are going to pull the taffy apart…..stretching your fingers/hands apart…..the picture above is the best one I could find to give you the visual cue…..remember to start at midline(the middle of your body) with both hands together….only pointer and thumbs touching…..then as you stretch your fingers out….make the E sound…..you should stretch to the length of your shoulders…

After your little one can produce the aw sound and the long E…have them practice in syllables such as:

aw-E

aw-E

aw-E

aw-E

aw-E

Next practice in syllables that do not end in a consonant such as:

boy

koy

doy

foy

goy

hoy

loy

koy

moy

noy

poy

soy

toy

woy

zoy

Next practice the same words above…but now with an ending consonant…this will definitely make the production of the glide portion of the diphthong more challenging.  I have found that as soon as there is a consonant at the end of the word…the glide is deleted…..so when I practice the word list below…I would be sure to really exaggerate the Long E sound…..then follow by the ending consonant…please post any questions…

foil

coin

voice

join

soil

loin

moin

noin

boycott

royal

zoyt

Remember some of the words are nonsense words…it does not matter…the point is to get your little one to go from a consonant….to the diphthong…and then end the word or nonsense word with another consonant.

 

 

Now when I work with the two little ones that I see for “diphthong therapy”…..this is the order of “diphthong therapy”

PRACTICE:

1.Nucleus sound..aw sound only

2. Glide sound….long E sound only

3. Syllables…..aww followed by long E

4. C-V words: use list above

5. C-V words in phrases, then short sentences, longer sentences, conversation

6. C-V-C words:  use list above

7. C-V-C words in phrases, then short sentences, longer sentences, conversation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            as in  pier, hear.

The starting position is as in “if” or “pit” with tongue front and high and lips relaxed.

 

 

 

          as in bear (the animal), pair and hair.

 The starting position is as in “egg” or “bed” with tongue in mid position at front of mouth. To make the diphthong, using a small controlled movement, pull your tongue slighty back from mid front to the mid central position in your mouth.

 

 

      as in “tour”, “poor”

 

The starting position is with tongue pulled back but small mouth aperture as in “hook”, “book” or “look”. To make this diphthong, this time the small controlled tongue movement goes from the back position to the mid central position, losing the lip rounding and relaxing your mouth from the tight starting position.

 

 

/OU/                     as in “oh”, “no”, “so” or “phone”.

 

 

 

       as in all the words of “How now brown cow!”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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